ByÂ Shaifali Agrawal:
One of the most common insults that the students of this course hear is; What does it teach you at the end of three years? You are just ‘reading’ the texts anyway. What else! Little do people know that reading is the next best thing in line to gaining knowledge, after real-life experience. English literature might not give you knowledge about mechanics or tell you how to make profit in business; but it will teach you things that will change the way you look at life, people and situations. It’ll share with you a pool of information of historical events and wars that have formed the world as it is now. There is more than just ‘reading’ Homer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Jane Austen. A critical analysis of any text from the psychoanalytic, feminist, modern and capitalist points of view is the basis to passing the exams.
English Honours is the perfect course for someone still disillusioned about ones future. Are you one of the freshers in the course who feel lost? A degree in English has many benefits as you gain the knowledge you can use in further studies in varied fields. The following are some of the main areas you’ll be apt in at the end of your English degree :
1. Critical Thinking The years of examining, criticising and over-analysing fictional incidents and characters would change the way you look at life and the people around you. You’ll know how to handle an argument, the quality most sought after in a journalist, a lawyer, and any intelligent person
2. History You will know the history of England on your finger tips; the social, cultural and political milieu right from the 14th century till now. Besides a knowledge of Greek mythology, modern history of Africa, the modern and pre-modern history of America and the history of partition of India; you’ll know how our lifestyle depends on political and cultural decisions. Masters in History won’t be the most off-beat course to do after English Literature.
3. Culture With history of different places, you’ll learn about the culture and lifestyle of various characters in your books.Â Masters in culture and development is a viable option after it.
4. Feminist Thinking Every era has a main discourse; the present one has sexuality and feminism at its core, said a lecturer. You’ll do a feminist reading of every text, and learn to look for hidden meanings in many scenarios and sentences. This again gives way to critical writing from feminist point of view; or it might ignite in you a passion for gender studies, which is a well-researched course in many universities at this time.
5. Literature The most obvious thing to pursue further is English Literature, obviously. But after the under-graduation, you’ll know better to not take anything to be obvious.
6. Reading between the Lines This is one thing, after critical thinking that you will carry on in your real life too. Why a person said what he said, why a character is the way he/she is; how a few childhood incidents left an impact on how a person had turned out to be as an adult, etc.
The Perks! These four years are not in the least the ‘waste’ of your life. While being surrounded with people similarly disillusioned about their futures, you realise it’s a world with many opportunities. And there are numerous perks to being a student of English Literature! Here are some; the rest you may find on your own during the journey in the course!
– There is an ‘air’ around the course and the people who pursue it. It also stands out from the rest of the degrees in a stack of resumes. On the first day of college, we were told by a lecturer, that a degree in English on your resume puts you above 38% of the population in getting a job.
– You can amuse people by quoting a line by Charles Dickens or Virginia Woolf, and they would never know that you wouldn’t have read any of it if you didn’t have to. Only in the middle of the classics, do you realise ‘why’ they are so famous and loved. When you say your favourite book is Jane Eyre, to a non-English Honours you would look smart and intelligent.
– You read all those books filled with sexual innuendos, and the funniest of lectures are just a part of your degree!Â Question: Who do you know laughs hysterically while reading a course book? Answer: An English Honours student!
– Most of the self-study would be fun, interesting, emotional and make you think.
Also published here.